We’ve Moved!

Well, folks, we did it. Much like the Jeffersons, we’re moving on up. But instead of to a deeee-luxe apartment in the sky, over on the East Side, we’ve gone to SB Nation.

In late September, I started this little independent blog on a free WordPress site with the intention of seeing it grow into one of the finest team-specific soccer blogs on the internet. We’re not there yet, but hey, we’ve only been at this a couple of months.

What we have accomplished in about nine weeks is pretty exciting. We’ve grown from a few sporadic page hits to several hundred each day and thousands every month. We went from having just me to a staff of nine, including dedicated writers for our USL Pro affiliate in Louisville and for the Orlando City academy system. We’ve added a podcast (or PawedCast, as we like to call it), which will grow and hit iTunes before the MLS season starts.

We thank you for finding us here and for making us a part of your daily surfing. We appreciate those of you who have followed us on Twitter and liked our Facebook page. We wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t fun and we couldn’t do it without you—the Orlando City fans who have already done so much.

We look at our time as an independent site as our stint in USL Pro. Now we’re moving up to the top flight. SB Nation has a more powerful reach, loads of resources, and a thriving built-in community. We’re proud to be a part of the SB Nation network of sites. We hope you’ll join us there and participate as part of our community. We want The Mane Land to grow into the best soccer site on the net. With your help, we’ll get there.

This site will stay up for a while, serving as a signpost to direct readers to our new home. Think of it as mail forwarding for the internet age. It will also serve as a historic document while it’s up, so that in the future we can occasionally look back and see how far we’ve come.

Come with us.

Thanks for reading.

Michael Citro
Founder and Managing Editor – The Mane Land

Louisville City Update: USL Pro to be New Reserve League?

In Don Garber’s State of the League event on Tuesday, a lot of news was made regarding the future of MLS and North American soccer in general. One aspect that hasn’t received too much discussion is the official disbandment of the MLS Reserve League and the league officially becoming “deeply committed to the USL Pro.”

“The Reserve League is going away. Every one of our clubs is either going to own or be affiliated with a USL Pro team,” the commissioner said. “And the reason why we’re doing it with the USL Pro is because they’re interested in doing that. They’re interested in affiliating with us and working together to help develop players.”

So what does this all mean for USL Pro?

Continue reading Louisville City Update: USL Pro to be New Reserve League?

Predicting a Winner: LA Galaxy Face NE Revolution for the MLS Cup

It’s finally here, and it’s the final everyone was hoping for. This Sunday at 3 p.m. the upstart New England Revolution will take on Landon Donovan’s LA Galaxy to decide the MLS Cup Final.

There may not have been a hotter team in Major League Soccer down the stretch than the Revolution. Since the addition of U.S. International Jermaine Jones in August, the Revs are a cool 11-1-2. We’ve watched the careers of Charlie Davies and Lee Nguyen seemingly rise from the depths of soccer purgatory. This is a fun squad to watch. Continue reading Predicting a Winner: LA Galaxy Face NE Revolution for the MLS Cup

Reports: Orlando City Close to Signing Colombian Starlet Rivas

For the second time this week, Orlando City has been linked to a young foreign player.

After a transfer rumor involving Portuguese forward Yannick Djaló of the San Jose Earthquakes forward earlier this week, the Lions have been linked to a possible imminent signing of Carlos Augusto Rivas Murillo—better known as Carlos Rivas—a 20-year-old Colombian attacker with Deportivo Cali in the Categoría Primera A, that country’s top flight.

The youngster won’t legally be able to purchase a beer in this country until April 15, but he could become a vital left winger to complete an attacking midfield trio with Kaká and Kevin Molino in Adrian Heath’s 4-2-3-1 formation, if radio and social media reports out of Colombia, as reported by FutbolMLS.com and MLSSoccer.com turn out to be true. Continue reading Reports: Orlando City Close to Signing Colombian Starlet Rivas

Where Does Tommy Redding Fit in 2015?

At 17 years old, Tommy Redding is currently the youngest player on Orlando City’s youthful roster. Along with fellow Lion, Tyler Turner, the 6-foot-2 center back is among the elite players coming through the U.S. youth ranks.

Redding is certainly dubbed a prospect for the future, but don’t be fooled, the defender exceeded all expectations in the USL Pro last year. Redding made 15 appearances in his debut season for Orlando, and has put himself in a great position in the lead-up to the MLS season.

Redding’s fine play has been awarded with an MLS contract, which made him the club’s first ever homegrown player. Adrian Heath has been pleased with his young defender’s development and has since showered him with praise following their 2014 USL Pro season. Continue reading Where Does Tommy Redding Fit in 2015?

Transfer Rumors: Benfica’s Yannick Djaló to Orlando City?

Portuguese sports site A Bola is reporting that Benfica striker Yannick Djaló is looking to enter the January transfer market in search of a new club, with Orlando City being rumored his favored destination. There is already a solid relationship between Benfica and Orlando City, a partnership that has seen the American club bring over two young players on transfer from Portugal, as well as sending its players to train at the iconic European club.

Djaló began his career at rival Sporting, where he appeared 98 times and found the net 23 times. His time at Benfica has been dominated by injuries and loans to French club Toulouse and MLS side San Jose Earthquakes. His loan in MLS lasted 17 games and saw him score 3 times. He was also named MLS Player of the Week while stateside.

Continue reading Transfer Rumors: Benfica’s Yannick Djaló to Orlando City?

Meet the New Guy: My Story with the Beautiful Game

For us 20-something American soccer fans, a love of the beautiful game was entrenched in 1994 when the United States was finally granted the honor of hosting the most prestigious sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup. We flocked to Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl to see some of the best players in the world, many of whom we’d heard about but never seen, display their world class ability. For me it was a round of 16 matchup between Ireland and the Netherlands. That meant legends such as Paul McGrath, Roy Keane, Frank de Boer, and Dennis Bergkamp.

Growing up in the 90s, soccer wasn’t considered by many to be a serious professional sport. While kids played it recreationally, it was considered a children’s game with little consequence. Lucky for me, my father knew the game on a global scale. Though I couldn’t see them, I grew up hearing of teams such as Manchester United and Arsenal and of players such as Eric Cantona and Tony Adams and was given the ability to dream of one day playing at Old Trafford, Highbury, or Wembley Stadium.

Continue reading Meet the New Guy: My Story with the Beautiful Game